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tv   This Is America With Dennis Wholey  WHUT  May 1, 2011 9:00am-9:30am EDT

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>> dennis van rocoul is a 26- year classroom veteran as a high school math teacher. the n.e.a. recently hosted a summit on the teaching profession in new york city. good to be with you again. your annual visit. >> i love it. i look forward to it every year. take up the international summit on the teaching profession in new york. n.e.a. was one of the host. who was there and what was the goal? >> we took the results of the
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international benchmark test and originally 25 countries were invited. the highest performing, as well as those who had made the greatest gains. out of those 15 were able to come. the conditions were you had to bring the minister of the education and union president and sit together at the table. it was a fascinating conversation. we learned as a nation so much from these other countries. >> what was the goal of the whole thing? and the valuation of the teaching profession? >> it was to learn and look at the countries that are doing exceptionally well. three things came out of there. number one, collaboration between the union and the government. in none of those countries is they're not high collaboration. >> here it is very adversarial. >> the second thing is they really focus differently on the profession than we do. they focus on quality at the
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front door. they invest heavily in recruitment and training. they then go into professional development. instead of opening the door wide and letting anyone in in trying to find about once and get them out. they just assume no one be in the classroom with 35 students a much more highly qualified ineffective. they really focus on student learning. not test scores. >> what does that mean? >> they talk about honoring and delivering for the whole child. they have assessments that go beyond the academic. they want to make sure the whole child is developing to be an adult who lives in contributes in society. so what we have done in this country is so narrow our discussion. they look at the whole child. what i mean when they focus on student learning is they do a lot of what we call "formative
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tests." they assess whether that child is learning the test. -- the assess whether the child is learning the information. we do a standardized test once a year. that is where we have our evaluations based on that. they did not go down that road at all. >> for some of the things that are coming out of these other countries, whether it is the union or the focus on the students were getting quality teachers up front seem so different from warwiwhere wee focused in the united states. what you say is the reform in the past and what are the unions path? >> the n.e.a. and a.f.t. are both going down the pass of collaboration. in early march, the department
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of education, along with n.e.a. and a.f.t. sponsored a labor management conference in denver. we invited school districts to bring their superintendent, board president or board member and the union president. we could only take 150, but there were over 200 that applied to come. we're both going down the road. we believe and what we're learning from other countries, collaboration works. if you cannot get management together at a table, you cannot get lasting change. what they need to do is reach out to the parents in the community. with that formula, i guarantee you can change what is happening with students and build a long lasting sustainable change. >> let's circle back. when you talk about quality teachers and what we're learning from other countries, you focused on the recruitment, that they recruit top candidates. a lot of time i read in some of
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these countries they have to have master's degrees before they go into classrooms. they are well trained and monitored or coached or supported. >> supported is an excellent work to use. in this country we sometimes fail to look at the statistics as a whole. to listen some of the critics, they said the biggest problem is it is too hard to fire the ones that are left. i would say your recruitment system and hiring system is broken. what these countries are saying is we do not go that way. we will make sure no one gets in the classroom until they are well trained. >> we are really talking to that, married to that is the status for which we hold teachers in the united states. >> one of the things you hear from all of these countries is when you look up public-service vs private-sector, they try to
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keep salary in balance so it is not a deterrent to go into public education because salaries are so low. we are not competitive for other educations that require a degree, teaching is not competitive at all. we make 35% less. they say we take that off the table. we will make sure if you go public sector or private sector it is all the same. and in finland only 8% to 11% of those that want to go into teaching are excepted. not only are you high academically, but they also want to make sure teaching is a desirable occupations for you. >> how would you change that in the united states to recruit a higher level of teacher from the git go? how would you go about that? >> they understand it as a whole
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system. that you cannot just tinker with one piece and change the whole system. one focus is recruitment and training. the next one is professional development. every year for your career as a teacher heavily supported through professional development. to make you better by your profession. the third one is clear development. they look it teachers to stay in the classroom. others who want to become experts. the third are the leaders in the school, what we would call principles. no one becomes a principal of the issue have been successful through the clear pattern of becoming a teacher. >> it is not a matter of getting a b.a. and sometimes going to a poor neighborhood of low- performing schools where a lot of them get placed. that will not work out, is it? no wonder why they will bail
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out. let me tell the folks at home we are talking with dennis van locrokel. dennis is president of the n.e.a. it is one of our underwriters. we thank them for our support. we will take a little break. "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children in public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals.
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forging a high your global standard. and the rope and borrow family trust. the c.t.c. foundation and american life tv network. >> to continue the conversation, it has to do with evaluating the teachers before they get in the classroom, picking them carefully, and then also we get so involved in the standardized testing here in the united states as the upper barometer to measure the students. that is not really fair, is it? >> these other countries do not do that. i believe it was an unintended consequence of the child left behind, but the emphasis on the high-stakes test, what we saw happen in schools is a
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tremendous narrowing of the curriculum. we saw arts disappear. science, civics. all those things we believe are important for the whole trial. they do not have that problem, because they look at the whole child and one to assess all of those areas. and the other one that really happened in this other country as a result of over emphasis on testing is bad educational practice. if a principal is only a valuated on how many of their students are proficient on the state test, they do not worry about the kids that are ready there. they do not worry about kids that are too low. they focus on the ones that are close. if we focus on that one group, we will get more proficient and score well. that is a bad educational philosophy and practice. >> when you close your eyes and look at our educational system in the united states, those that you are hearing about at this
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international summit. what do you say to yourself? >> one of the questions i asked is how were you able to maintain an importance of education with different political leaders? >> for response i get back is it is a national interest. that no political party would not be in favor of a strong educational system. so as they change players in the political process, at the national commitment to educating all of their students remains. i think in this country it has become way to polarized. if i gave you two columns of educational policies, i believe you could label them with the party, and that is wrong. we have to develop a system that delivers a good, quality education to every child in america. it does not right now, never has, and never designed to do that. we have to fundamentally change
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the system. >> there was an article in the "the new york times" that talks about the debate going on right now. it is hard not to wonder whether the debate over school reform has reached a point where debate is no longer possible. if you support the teachers' union, you do not care about the students. if you are critical of the teachers' union, you do not care about the teachers. if you are in favor of charter schools, you are opposed to public education. if you believe an increase testing, you are on board with the liberal societies most cherished educational all use. if you're against increased testing, you are against accountability. it goes on and on. neither side seems capable of listening to another. what you think of that? >> amen. -- what do you think of that?
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>> amen. we're trying to build a dialogue to find a common interest and purpose. purpose is very important. let me give you a story as they listen to singapore. as they talk about the school leaders they evaluate them on two criteria. number one, how well can you articulate the mission and vision of your school? meaning, what are you trying to accomplish for students? the second area is how effective are you at building a team? and getting all of the adults to work together for the betterment of students. think how differently you would job than r do saying we will of god with you based on your testing results in
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one day. i think we can change that. i am optimistic. i believe by building consensus among the different groups we can find a better way in the country that delivers to all students. we cannot wait. it is urgent. it needs to be done now. the labor management conference was the beginning. it is reaching out to parents in the community and decided what we will do next fall to change what is happening to our kids. >> you mentioned labor. it popped into my mind unions again. what is going on in wisconsin and ohio and florida? all over the place. i do not want to take the side of the union here, but the unions are part of the american story. as far as dollars and cents in people's pockets and working conditions. tell me a little bit about what
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they were saying about unions abroad and why has this come to such ahead crunch in the united states? >> i think it is part of the divide and conquer politics. you were right about their role unions. they pla created the lmiddle class. all of those came about because someone was advocating for middle class. i am a believer in the american dream, but everyone told me if i got a good education, i could get wherever i wanted to go. the power of the american dream is that anyone who works hard can make it. i think with this tactic of destroying the unions is going in the wrong direction. someone has to stand up for the working person. we're not all corporations and ceos. i believe every american deserves to be able to make a
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wage and be able to own a home, raise your family, and to pay your own children. when did that become something we do not want in america? >> let me play devil's advocate for a minute, because i spent so much time in michigan. the unions took too strong of a hand, and should accept some responsibility, management did as well, but the two together really hurt the american auto industry. when does it go too far? do you agree with that? >> i agree there are certain circumstances where one side or the other harmed the whole system. what you do not do is eliminate the whole union. that is what they are trying to do and ohio and wisconsin, and i think that is the wrong way to go. i think the american public sees that. in wisconsin, 221 says we can
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criticize the unions, but we do not want them gone. -- 2 to 1 says we can criticize the unions, but we do not want them gone. i was reading -- >> to the unions in the other countries have collective bargaining? >> of course. they just expect that government and unions will work together toward their common goal. >> that is the point you made from the very beginning. it is not an adversarial position. here we have are reformers interestingn't it that the states are all that a crown states for the 2012 election? coincidence? >> i do not think so. >> is it political? >> a lot of it is political. if you look at the road to the white house and the fundamental
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states that could make the difference in 2012, those are the states we're having these battles in. >> isn't it odd that you get these people who said we were living with too much red ink in america and were read about the deficit, and then they come into power and they do not understand the basics of how america works? >> when it started in wisconsin it was about balancing the budget and paying your fair share in money. we soon found out that was not the issue at all. the union said we agree, we will pay more for our pensions and health care. he got exactly what he asked for, but it was not enough. it goes to show it was not about money, it was about silencing the voice of middle-class america and the unions. >> i would be remiss if i did not get into this conversation with you. you say too many students are not getting the education they deserve.
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you suggest in another piece that i read that kids should not be penalized because of the zip code they live in. how do we take some of these, and i think -- i do not like the wording because i think it is smoke and mirrors, but the low- priority schools. there are people living in neighborhoods and areas in party who just do not have a shot at the american dream that you're talking about. what do we do about that? >> if we look at other countries, what they try to do is look up every school. they do not close them down and punish them. one of the thing and the results -- it stands for international tests of achievement, but what is amazing for me is when you look at their schools, it really does not matter which school you go to come if you have the same range of student achievement. meaning it does not matter where
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you live, the quality is in every school. we should be doing that. some of the schools in ontario canada, they do not punish. what they do is to partner to say what can we do to let this up? if one school needs additional resources -- look at the harlems children's own. there are supplemental services, but the point is is should be focused on the students. we should review the obstacles that keep the student from succeeding, and there should be one of those places to send your kids. every neighborhood should have a quality school. >> so you have this campaign to look at the low-performing schools. >> the administration talked about the low was performing 5%, and then they develop the school improvement grants that would go out to a low was performing. we ssay they should not be
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performing, andio they should be called high priority. we made a commitment to give support to those adults who work in those schools. every school that are receiving money from the federal government we are partnering with them in making them our priorities cool to say we want to turn that around starting right now. we need to say what are we going to do differently next year and year after? one of the things that drives me and one of the things that keeps me up at night is what if through all of the discussion and education we do not change what is happening to america's kids? that is unacceptable. back in 2007, i started thinking and not fall, the kindergarten kids are the class of 2020. if we have 2020 vision, clear view of the future, what we want for the class of 2020? they are in third grade right now. what i can tell you is i do not
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know their names or what will happen next week, but i can tell you within 2 percentage points if nothing happens, i can tell you the person that will drop out, how many will commit suicide, how many will be teenage parents if nothing changes. what drives me every day is i want the system to change. i do not what the statistics in 2020 that we know now will happen unless we do something differently. that is what the collaboration is essential. no one group can do it alone. doing it together we can change it, and we start right now. we need to start right now with every adult who works in the school building reaching out to the parents and say, what do we believe we should do differently, more of or less of next year to ensure our students get a better education? >> secretary duncan and the president, are they on board with the passion that you have
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about this necessity for change? >> absolutely. i believe they are passionate as i am about the current not being enough. we sometimes disagree on the best ways of getting there, but i consider that to be a good conversation. let's find the best strategies that work, but most importantly let's change the system and ensure that every child in america does have a shot at the american dream. >> whether it was the summit that was just held in new york, or whether it is the organization of economic and social development, they have a report out what usa can learn from the world's most successful educational reform efforts. what is the lesson to be learned? what have you learned? what was the inspiration that has come from the report and the summit? >> two things. one is the way they attack the problem
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>> the american federation of teachers. the union of professionals. poongsan corp. and the rotondaro family trust, the ctc
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